Day Three

Today is day three of the movement control order here in Malaysia. It isn’t a complete lockdown but other than food and other essential supply runs it’s pretty much stay home or be fined if you’re stopped at a road block or caught elsewhere without a valid reason to be out. All schools and most businesses are now closed for at least 2 weeks however the supermarkets and wet markets remain open but goods may be limited and lines may be long. In addition to that the borders have been closed to any foreigners looking to enter and to any Malaysians looking to exit.

I considered taking the train and returning to my home in rural Thailand where I’d be as safe as I could be since I don’t have any people within a 100 meters of my house, the population density is very low, and we don’t have many people coming and going, however for the time being I decided to stay at the children’s shelter and continue to help out here. We are trying to keep life as normal, fun, and productive as possible for the 30 or so kids that live here despite the cancelation of most of the usual activities including all trips beyond the front gate.

Luckily we have enough space here for the kids to go outside and play in the morning and in the evening when it isn’t so terribly hot. As for the remainder of the day they use most of it for reading, studying, playing games, screen time, and some daily chores. A while back I downloaded some classic video games onto a few of the computers and got some USB controllers so now a whole new generation of kids are into Mario Kart 64, Donkey Kong Country, and some other classic Nintendo games. A couple of kids are even into Thundercats so yesterday I taught them some English while watching an episode.

P.S. It’s sad to see sick and abused chickens crammed into small cages still being brought into the wet market every morning for slaughter in inhumane and unsanitary conditions, no wonder why we keep having these zoonotic disease outbreaks. Moreover it’s sad to see so many irresponsible people still insisting on gathering for parties and prayers during this pandemic. Maybe if more people refrained from eating animals, shaking hands, gathering in large crowds, and flying unnecessarily we might have been able to avoid some of this mess. Now the goal is to keep it from spreading too rapidly and overwhelming the healthcare system so I hope everyone is doing their part to keep themselves safe and from becoming spreaders of the virus. Anyway I hope things get better soon and humanity learns a few lessons in the process.

Super Tuesday

Why Bernie? Because of the candidates left standing I feel that Bernie has the best chance of beating Trump and many polls agree with me. As for Biden he really seems like he’s in cognitive decline and not up for such a critical job moreover in addition to lacking the mental acumen needed to win the election and perform the job itself he doesn’t have the grassroots energy and movement behind him needed to defeat Trump.

Bernie had this grassroots energy and movement in 2016 and after four more years as an independent in the Senate where he continued to fight for what is right he has it again in 2020. Hopefully the mainstream media and democratic party establishment won’t get their way again like they did in 2016 and run a weaker candidate against Trump because if Biden does get the nomination I really fear that once on the debate stage Trump will make Joe Biden look old and weak like he did with Jeb Bush in 2016 and end up getting reelected.

I’m not willing to bet the farm on Bernie beating Trump but I do think he has a better chance than Biden or Bloomberg. Regardless of who comes out on top today and in the following primaries I hope everyone supports the nominee in any way they can and is sure to vote in November because life as we know it on planet earth might not be able to handle another 4 years of Trump. The climate crisis is now a climate emergency and the U.S. needs a president who is scientifically literate and can understand that the time for climate action is now.

P.S. The second and third video helps show why a wealth tax is needed to help provide health care and educational opportunities for those who are struggling to get by along with any kids they may have that are struggling to get by with them. Bernie’s wealth tax would start at 1% a year and only apply to the top 0.1% which means on those with a net worth of 32 million or more. I hate to break it to you but you ain’t in the top 0.1% and neither are your old parents who the media is trying to scare into opposing Bernie so don’t think he is going after all of your hard earned money. Please read more here. Tax on Extreme Wealth

Lunar New Year 2020

Happy Lunar New Year, I hope this post finds you healthy. It’s unfortunate that this Lunar New Year will be remembered by the emergence of another new zoonotic disease. I wrote a short post about zoonotic diseases here five years ago saying that disease surveillance in other animals is great but what we really need to focus on is keeping humans away from animals and the best way to do this is by protecting the world’s forests and to stop eating animals with an emphasis on those that have been raised, handled, and slaughtered in conditions that make the emergence of another zoonotic disease far more likely.

Speaking of old posts here is one that I wrote for Lunar New Year four years ago.

Depending on which calendar a society uses there are many different New Year’s and in some places more than one is celebrated. Calendars are generally one of three types: lunar, solar, or lunisolar. A lunar calendar is based on the revolution of the moon around the earth, a solar calendar is based on the revolution of the earth around the sun, and a lunisolar calendar is based on the moon’s revolution around the earth but includes a thirteenth month, aka leap month, every two or three years to keep it in sync with the earth’s revolution around the sun.

In lunisolar calendars like the Chinese calendar a leap month is periodically added so the months correspond with the seasons. It takes the moon around 29.5 days to revolve around the earth which means 12 lunar months is around 354 days and since it takes the earth around 365 days to revolve around the sun the months and seasons would drift apart around 11 days each year without this leap month. The New Year’s that takes place on January 1st is according to the Gregorian or Western calendar which is a solar calendar and the New Year’s that takes place today and every year on the new moon between late January and late February is according to the Chinese lunisolar calendar.

Happy New Year! 新年快樂!

Sheen = new 新
Nee-en = year 年
Kwai Luh = happy 快樂

Sheen Nee-en Kwai Luh! Try it if you encounter a Chinese speaking person this week because unlike the Western New Year Chinese New Year, aka Spring Festival, is a multi-day mega holiday that doesn’t officially conclude until the 15th day which marks the first full moon of the new year and is celebrated as Lantern Festival.

Happy New Year 2020!

A new year and a new decade has arrived! I wish you all health and happiness and hope humanity will make better decisions this year, particularly this November in the U.S.. Five years ago when I first started this blog a couple of my first posts were about climate change. It’s been disappointing to see how things have played out these past 5 years, especially after all the hope that the Paris Agreement brought in late 2015. Hopefully humanity will unite and put things right this decade. Regardless we must all do our part to reduce our own environmental footprint while hopefully inspiring others to reduce theirs.

Last week the senior social worker at the children’s home and I took a few of the older kids to Thailand for the school holiday. It was a 7 hour drive from the children’s home in Malaysia to my home in Thailand. There we explored some of the pristine nature and mountain scenery before going to Krabi for some beach fun and hot springs relaxation. I took some footage of the trip and am putting together a short video so all the other kids can at least enjoy some of the scenery and laugh at some of the antics of those 5 days. Now all the kids are back including the ones who went to stay with relatives for the holiday and a new school year starts tomorrow.

P.S. Yesterday we came across a medium sized water monitor that was just sitting in the middle of the outermost lane of a very busy road. It didn’t have any visible damage but it was in shock and had some blood coming from its mouth so I suspect it was hit by a motorcycle. I tried to shoo it off the road but it wouldn’t move. There was no shoulder on the road and there were cars getting backed up behind us so I carefully grabbed it behind the head so it couldn’t bite me and lifted it up from the back so it couldn’t claw me and carried it to the car turned reptile ambulance. As soon as I got it into the car it started clawing and whipping its tail. I kept pressure on its back and turned my head so I didn’t get clawed or whipped in the face.

We took it back to the children’s home because that area is suitable for urban dwelling water monitors and we even have a couple that visit our compost pile from time to time. Once we arrived I took it out of the car the same way I had brought it in and carried it to a quiet place away from where all the kids go. I then placed the calmed down water monitor on the grass and as soon as I released his neck and stepped back he came back to life and bolted through a hole in the fence and into some shrubs and banana plants. I think he will survive but he wouldn’t have if he was left in the middle of that busy road. Unfortunately I had my hands full and was too worried about getting bit, clawed, and whipped in the face to get any photos.

Update: It’s been over a month since the reptile rescue. I know the water monitor is doing well because it has become a frequent visitor to the compost pile at the children’s home. How do I know it’s the same one? Because I haven’t seen any other water monitors near the compost pile over the past few months and this one that just started appearing a few days after the rescue is the same size which is smaller than the other ones I’ve seen near the compost pile. Moreover unlike the other ones I’ve seen a few times over the past couple years this one isn’t afraid of me. It won’t let me get too close but it won’t run like crazy head first into the fence and anything else that gets in the way when it sees me approaching.

Reticulated Python

Last week I took the train back to Penang to do some volunteering at the children’s home during the school holiday but before I left my mountainside home I saw some beautiful reptiles including a reticulated python which is the world’s longest species of snake. The green anaconda is the largest species of snake in terms of weight however reticulated pythons are the longest and can grow up to 10 meters long. It’s awesome to see some of the amazing reptiles I would see in pet shops as a kid in the U.S. just crawling and slithering around my house here in Southeast Asia.


Water Monitor

The day before yesterday after another three week stay in Penang I once again returned to Thailand by boat. While waiting for a boat that was headed to Thailand I saw one of the biggest water monitors I have ever seen. I only got a glimpse before it ran underneath the wharf I was standing on so I could only photograph the footprints it left behind. However later when I was on the boat waiting them to finish loading it with goods I was able to get a photo of its head and neck. After over three hours of waiting the boat finally left, unfortunately it didn’t get very far before it was pulled over and boarded by Malaysian customs officers and told to return to port. There I had to wait nearly another hour while the boat captain explained why he didn’t have his papers in order and didn’t pay tax on his cargo. Once the issues were resolved we got back on the boat and I returned to Thailand to sleep in my bed for the first time in three weeks.

Smog Story

This past month there was some terrible smog blanketing much of Southeast Asia. Unfortunately it’s a seasonal problem that occurs during the Indonesian dry season which is around August and September. At this time irresponsible companies burn large swaths of pristine rainforest in order to clear land for palm oil plantations in addition to burning to clear unwanted vegetation in existing plantations. This year was particularly bad and as usual most of the hot spots were in Sumatra and Kalimantan Indonesia. The air started getting really bad the last few days I was in Penang but I was able to escape the smog once I returned to Thailand.

However after a couple weeks of being in the clear the winds shifted north and the smog made it to my house so I decided to go north by train to Chumphon which was just out of the smog’s reach. I stayed there for a few days on a nice quiet beach and waited for the fires to burn out or be put out and for the winds to shift directions so the air at my house could return to normal. As soon as the air became suitable for breathing again I returned home. Hopefully this year’s public outcry will cause the Indonesian government to take this problem more seriously. A few days ago I saw a bird and a spider that could represent the dangerous and pristine air.

Fund Raiser

I came to Penang nearly 2 weeks ago to visit the kids and get another 30 entry stamp for Thailand. I was only planning on staying for 3 days but once again I was persuaded by the kids to extend my stay. I was also asked by the management of the children’s home to help out with some planning for a fund raising event that they hope will provide adequate funds for relocating. I broke out a tape measure and some old auto-cad skills and drew a detailed floor plan which helped the organizers figure out where everything was going to fit. I also agreed to stick around to help them move everything into place this weekend and after the event successfully concludes I will be going back to my lovely home in rural Thailand.

The House Shitter

I caught a big Tokay gecko yesterday. Unlike smaller house geckos which leave little droppings in exchange for the service of clearing any insects that make it into the house the much larger Tokay gecko takes big shits all over everything. Moreover at night they often make loud calls which can be very annoying if you’re nearby. Most people around here just kill them since it’s easier to kill than capture but I wouldn’t kill such a beautiful creature so I caught him without harming him and released him on the other side of a nearby river where there aren’t any houses for him to get into trouble at. I later celebrated the successful catch and release with some durian.

Make America Think Harder – Yang2020!

I support Andrew Yang for President because he’s a pragmatic and independent minded data-driven thinker with the brain power and temperament to lead the U.S. in solving its most serious and pressing problems. His human-centered approach to capitalism will make life better for Americans of all walks of life now and into the future, and his proposal for a universal basic income, aka the Freedom Dividend, is an old idea whose time has come and should be implemented before, rather than after, there is an economic and social crisis due to the millions of Americans who over the next decade will have their jobs automated away. The Freedom Dividend will help support those affected by this inevitable wave of automation as they seek/create new economic opportunities.

The Freedom Dividend will also help ensure that all Americans have a chance to pursue their passions instead of having to shelve their passions to work at soul-crushing jobs just in order to feed themselves and this can/will lead to increased creativity and entrepreneurship. Moreover unlike disability and some other forms of government welfare the Freedom Dividend would not discourage anyone from working for fear of losing their benefits. Furthermore a thousand dollars a month will not provide meaning or sense of purpose and is definitely not enough money to live on comfortably so people will still seek/create economic opportunities. Instead of having so many people stressed out, on the edge, and using opiates to cope we can collectively decide to give everyone a little bit of breathing room to figure out how they can best contribute to society and improve their lot in life.

The Freedom Dividend should not be seen not as socialist policy but as a libertarian one because it will make people more free to choose. It will not and does not seek to achieve equality of outcome, it merely seeks to improve equality of opportunity. As Yang has said it’s still capitalism it’s just capitalism that doesn’t start at zero. Moreover it will not require any new government bureaucracies as government will not decide which Americans get this money or how they use it. Sure some people will make poor choices but these poor choices can at least be discouraged through the value added taxes which will help pay for the Freedom Dividend, i.e., in addition to targeting luxury goods these value added taxes can also target unhealthy consumption, e.g., cigarettes, alcohol, and sweetened beverages. A policy like this could do wonders to improve health, alleviate stress, keep families together, and enable more children to grow up in environments conducive to their healthy development.

I hope you’ll go on to check out the policy information on his website and some of his videos on YouTube. You will find him to have a solid understanding and an enlightened stance on many issues however it’s just that the universal basic income is the one that gets the most attention because he is the only one looking ahead and seeing the near-future clearly enough to propose one. I hope Yang will gain traction over the next few months provided they keep his mic on and let him speak for more than 3 minutes in future debates and enough people seek to learn more about him and his policies. If not and he is unable to gain traction then I will be supporting Sanders like I did in 2016. RCP Poll Average

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Badminton

I went to the city to buy some vegetables and play some indoor badminton today. As usual It was fun to play with a proper net and boundaries and without any wind but it’s way too hot in those breeze-free buildings. I can’t imagine wearing socks, shoes, and a shirt in that kind of stagnant heat while playing badminton like everyone else does. Luckily I haven’t seen any No shirt, No shoes, No service signs at the entrances to these places.

I hope this post reminds you and this video motivates you to go and play some badminton, however unlike just about everyone else that plays this and many other games remember to play with your right and left hands, your shoulder and the rest of your body will thank you for it.

Bowling: New Technique New Record

Last month I rolled a record breaking 247 which is over 30 pins higher than my previous high game. Although I’m still rolling a 12 pound house ball straight without any hook on it before I was just rolling the ball in a straight line from the center to the pocket and now I roll the ball in a straight line from the side to the pocket. This allows the ball to hit the pins at a slight angle which gets more pin action and more strikes. If you’re throwing a straight ball I recommend you try releasing the ball next to the right gutter when you bowl with your right hand and next to the left gutter when you bowl with your left hand. That way when the ball does hit the pocket it will do so at a slight angle and increase your chances of getting a strike.

P.S. Today I set a new left hand record with a 170.

新年快樂!

Happy New Year! 新年快樂!

Sheen = new 新
Nee-en = year 年
Kwai Luh = happy 快樂

Sheen Nee-en Kwai Luh! Try it if you encounter a Chinese speaking person this week because unlike the Western New Year Chinese New Year, aka Spring Festival, is a multi-day mega holiday that doesn’t officially conclude until the 15th day which marks the first full moon of the new year and is celebrated as Lantern Festival.

2019

Happy New Year, here are a few photos from my January 1st 2019.

Strike

After many years of not bowling I started bowling once in a while with the kids however last time I went alone in the afternoon while they were at school so I could focus. I arrived at the bowling alley with the goal of bowling a 180 or above which is something I’ve only done two or three times in my life and not for the last two decades or so. After a few games I was able to throw a 183 with my right hand and a 150 with my left. Note: I used a 12 pound house ball and only threw straight balls, no hooks. I was so happy with those two last games that I didn’t want to start a new one even though I still had around 10 minutes on my one hour lane rental so instead of starting a new game I decided to try some experimental throws.

I was the only person bowling in the entire place and just as I was about to leave a group of people arrived and were gathering near my lane so for my final shot I positioned myself in front of the lane but I was facing towards the people and away from the pins. I then did a normal pendulum throw but instead of releasing the ball in the front of the swing I held on to it and released it in the back. After releasing the ball I struck a pose that might have been seen in some late 70’s disco and I held it legs split, one arm up, and bent over looking behind me with everything upside down until BOOM, strike! I then stood up and looked up at the group of people who were watching and they all immediately broke into a round of applause. It was hilarious.

Bowling Trick Shots

P.S. I’ve always wanted to break 200 and 12 days after this post I finally I did!

Dog Bite

There was a tokay gecko at the restaurant near my home and the owners wanted it gone because it was defecating all over their kitchen. A couple of weeks ago I saw it on the wall so I grabbed a kitchen towel to protect myself from it’s blood-drawing bite and captured it. I then proudly showed the owners the big gecko and one of them asked if he could kill it which is what they probably do to any tokay geckos that try taking up residence at their restaurant.

I was like why would you want to kill such a beautiful specimen when you could just walk across the street, a little ways into the forest, and release it into the wild. I told them that’s where I was headed and that I first just wanted to show them the fellow that’s been shitting all over their kitchen. The point of this introduction is to tell you that I had no reason to venture out onto the road and into the forest that night and only did so so I could release this tokay gecko.

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A Terrible Decision

If making America great again means going against the strong, sincere, and wise recommendations of just about every citizen on planet earth including the nation’s and the world’s top business leaders and seriously damaging U.S. credibility and moral standing in the world in order to take a selfish, immoral, and irresponsible unilateral action which is against the wishes of the majority of the citizens you’re supposed to represent and with no concern of the immediate and long-term effects it will have on others in and outside of the U.S. then Mr. Trump you, Bannon, and Pruitt are off to a good start and I assure you that you’ve made history, just not the kind your grandchildren are going to be proud of.

As for where to go from here, are your senators one of the 22 that recently signed a letter urging Trump to pull the U.S. out of the Paris Climate Agreement? Have you contacted them and expressed your extreme disapproval of their position on climate change and role in this disastrous decision?

Don’t just blame Trump for quitting the Paris deal — blame the Republican Party

The Republicans who urged Trump to pull out of Paris deal are big oil darlings

Tell your Governor to uphold the standards of the Paris Agreement.

Add your name to condemn Trump’s reckless abandonment of the Paris Climate Agreement!

P.S I’m still thinking about what to do with this blog and about what I can do to help mitigate the environmental damage caused by profligate individuals living in America and around the world. I hope to have something figured out and started by the end of the year. In the meantime have fun being alive on a planet that isn’t nearly as beautiful as it once was but is still awesome.

Individual action: what you can do about climate change

Climate Change

Don’t just blame Trump for quitting the Paris deal — blame the Republican Party

The Republicans who urged Trump to pull out of Paris deal are big oil darlings

Tell your Governor to uphold the standards of the Paris Agreement.

Add your name to condemn Trump’s reckless abandonment of the Paris Climate Agreement!

Individual action: what you can do about climate change

Seven Things to Know About Climate Change

A List of Climate Change Solutions From Drawdown.org

Contact: White House     U.S. Senate     U.S. House of Representatives

Support: Natural Resources Defense Council   EarthJustice   350.org   The Climate Reality Project   Greenpeace

P.S I’m still thinking about what to do with this blog and about what I can do to help mitigate the environmental damage caused by profligate individuals living in America and around the world. I hope to have something figured out and started by the end of the year. In the meantime have fun being alive on a planet that isn’t nearly as beautiful as it once was but is still awesome.

Monsoon Season

2017 begins much like 2016 ended, rain and more rain. After a few days of heavy rain the once peaceful little creek that ran along the side of my home has swollen into a raging river. I’m not too worried about that however I am a bit worried about all the rain bringing down a large tree on a steep slope that has my roof in its sights. Earlier today I went to pick some fruit but was unable to make it to the orchard due to much bigger raging river. I thought about testing my luck but if the rapidly moving knee deep water that was covering the narrow bridge took out one of my legs the other would certainly follow and I’d be washed off the bridge and pummeled against many boulders as I was sent downstream so it wasn’t worth it, not even for some rollinia.